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Labour Law Compliance: More Than A Legal Requirement

by Maria Gerasimova, Account Executive EMEA on Nov 29

Compliance is really important because failing to correctly follow these laws results in severe financial and legal ramifications for a company. Legal action may be taken, and fines may be charged against employers who do not comply with laws and regulations. Labour law compliance is, however, much more than avoiding legal sanctions.  Labour law works to protect both the shift workers and their employer. It covers the basic rights of your employees so that you can focus on encouraging a dynamic, passionate workforce. 


Your workforce is the lifeblood of a company and so much more; they’re the energy that brings the concept of the company together. They ensure the business functions as planned by management. Who plays a more vital operational role than those who turn up daily and act as the face of the organisation? Trusting someone with handling money and client interaction means giving them a huge responsibility. The significance of their job satisfaction and rights cannot be understated.


Employers always try to do their best for their employees. Ensuring that workers are happy and feel bought-in to the wider company’s values is important for both parties. This can start with something as catering to basic rights which include discrimination, minimum wage, workplace health and safety and ensuring that your employees have their shifts and schedules worked out according to the law.  


What laws are applicable to you?

Here are some quick examples of relevant labour laws from across the world that influence your schedules:  

  •   USA. In the US, predictability laws ensure that workers are not scheduled for unexpected shifts or made to both “close” and “open” the store again the next morning. In Washington, USA, the law states: “Employers must provide a good faith estimate of hours an employee can expect upon hire, (…), and must provide work schedules 14 days in advance or pay workers at least an extra hour at the standard rate.”
  • Europe. In many European countries, night shift workers cannot work more than 8 hours in a 24 hour period. Day shift workers must have at least 11 hours of rest between shifts, and those working more than 6 hours must have a break during their shift. Recently, The Netherlands has also introduced a law similar to the US predictive scheduling laws called the Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans.
  • Australia. Australia has similar laws. For example, a retail worker cannot be rostered on to do more than 9 hours of work a day. In some cases, they cannot work more than 38 hours per week. However, over a month period it is OK for them to work different weekly hours which average out to 38 per week. As stated by FairWork Australia:
    • “Cindy works full-time and averages her 38 hours a week by working 76 hours over 2 weeks. She works 42 hours the first week and 34 hours second week. 42 + 34 = 76 hours. This means that over 2 weeks she has worked an average of 38 hours per week.”


The complexity of labour law compliance in schedules

Some of these laws are so complex that they end up looking like a textbook math problem (albeit a very important one), especially when industry specific rules exist as well. Employers have even more to think about when scheduling shifts. Beyond the law, it’s also important to consider the shift workers’ personal lives, skills and training.


These workers constantly problem-solve on the go, as clients arrive with new queries and problems which haven’t yet been thought of by management. They also often, unfortunately, bear the brunt of any customer dissatisfaction. All of this, while working in defined shifts around which they fit their personal lives. It is important to listen to their needs in terms of time off and personal schedules.


In addition, each worker has a defined set of skills and competencies. Some may be trained in working tills while others may be trained for bar-work. Those who are trained for certain work need to be aligned to shifts where they will be able to use their skills to their highest potential. The skills and training they have received may also be related, legally to their age, if it’s linked to alcohol sales.


When you combine this with labour law, it gets very complex. Compliance to the law can thus be difficult terrain for you to navigate. Juggling the needs of hundreds of workers is a big task, but overall an employer must ensure that they work:


  1.     When it’s legally possible
  2.     When their skills and competencies align with the shift requirements
  3.     Ideally, when they’d prefer


If the only person who is trained to close up shop for the night can no longer work that shift, it is a problem. But it’s one that must be solved legally. Compliance to labour law results in protected, happy employees, which has a broad range of benefits for a company. High employee satisfaction means higher productivity, lower turnover, and happier customers.


It is very important that employers ensure that they comply with labour law. Operating with a reliable workforce optimisation system in place is a solid platform from which to build up your employee satisfaction to unprecedented levels.